(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Nice Guy Who Finished Last"

------------------------------<page break>-----------------------------
ter novatot d 
' 's ream 
'. ...... U l:n ,, 
 :,_.,,:," ' .. .,.. ...::..' 
 .BY:DAVID PLOTNIKOFF :' .'." v,',':: ' ",' manufacturers of .comisuterj: mice, would' shlte?a , 
.,.. ,Nostwr '.. ' - ' ',: ', .-., 69-year-old researcher ,who's' been all but forgbtten 
, - ....... '" '-'-: ............. by industry and acadmiao .Call it a prophet:shaing 
"'.':;;,:;:T.,?AIER Drive in Fremont is no place for a guru.: .....  .... 
"';:!(f,'.,,T. he View is uninspiring. The graceless elec-' plan. They re very good to me here, says theman 
who invented the mousse. ' .... .','::::' 'v :J.!,' .. 
.:.:::,:,:t0nics.plants that loom like giant white salt ' ..  ,, '. .-':.. /,, ..,i', , 
-qi'P-,on fertile bottom land'by th Dumbarton Bridge  ,  , ..... .,. -.-'x, ,,,:. ,, ,,, .'-,.,.',, .:., 
Next weekend, the' pioneers who built the Internet 
.d6:i6t"lend.themselves to big-time dreaming.. 25 years ago will gather in Boston for two days. of 
 :'-Dogl as' Engelbart does not complain 'about .the 
.. iy!_from.Kaiser Drive. These days, he's grateful for. 
 .thspa.ce/.:From his tiny office right off the main 
 Aobby..'o Logitech's headquarters building, he can see 
.<the(future.. He sees a future in : ,,:' 
masts, .speeches and media  events. It's a  big-moaey ": 
reumon; sponsored by'Bolt, Beranek and' 'Newman, 
the key contractor that built the first stretch o]the 
information highway.-.Engelbart, who was :'on!..the 
. 'receiving end of the first .net- 
:::Which people work together, har.,- ;' ' ':'""" ' :" ' work transmission, Will be. there ,; 
fi.ssing".alli:the knowledge they [ve, r'y society must have a - gently reminding anyone.Who '.. 
share to solve mankind's great., , , ,,i::. ;- '"' will listen that the job, is:'not":fin - '".' 
' ..... :., . .. ' . ', ' .:k..','..:':: '  .. 
.L/o,l,.O?iqiSe can see what En- .!ew ,.!lr,!?.!:a,s8 ,p;;:,ophe!s, the . ',.S,hodrYaet ordinary com'15 'ci- 
.,.:.,.gb"sbs. And therein lies one ,',':..'. '!.?iF.Z::?,:-r.i'.':,, L:":;:" ,,'.' '.. .:' entist, being the recipient';.of..the ,'' 
.!0fhes 'ad..i,e..st.stories in Silicon ,.Ede,.e,-tlfiiaking.C,.s.,wO. gaze,;.:.... net;lork.messag.q: ' :"hi'ry 
_ - - -i:,'.','*,.'-' ;.- :' ' -, ...... . ',,' :4 ':.'.:':,;.c.,, ' ., 1 .;. cro ."aClifE.,e-,:: 
,, ."'must have, feEi-. E, .; Z" ' ""' ' ...... "' ;,:'-':':;m, nf-oti-career. F,O :' ell ,:',, 
ht,, the, dee;, if-?' .;'.?...: ... ' is' notven' a" :,aur. 
...,;'?-,,'e the rest of us plod ' .-U 8 puMlII .n ao8 uo[ labora at:Stford,' 
."'.ldng",With::nose dow to the ..' .,.. ';,;:?4 ..::,: :,.-:' . '.,, '  Ititute (SI) is little;ri: 
:gr8. Their'job is to tell us what' "to th''.[ass. Their job is to tell ' interesting foomoe 
'directio n 'to go and where we'll 
','.n',.two' 20 years. Engelbart 
s one of those cats. "Doug is sort 
:of::.like-Moses,. parting the Red 
'.S:,e/!?,'Sasi Howard Rheingold, 
author-,of,;;,The Virtual Communi- 
:,t!:i'Homes,teading on the Elec- 
tronic Frontier." "You know, he's 
'got: thewhite hair and the far-off 
us what direction to go and 
where.we'll be.in twior 
20 ye .a:.!s..Engelbart is' one of 
those Cats .... - :. 
liant 40-year run that includes : 
prescient achievements'in tele-'"'( " 
'nf g e' d s:ig ...... 
co erencin , interfac .. e n, ... _, 
multimedia and text h'anding. JAs 
.the New York Times put it sever- - 
al years back, "Silicon Valley has 
spent the last 20 years_ imple- " .' 
menting ideas Engelbrt,.:,first 
demonstrated in the 1960s.',? :'."' 
 ."dreiing .'in.:"'a donated office with hand}me-down 
' furnitureand:.wires hanging out ,of the ceillEg. '.,..,. .,,- '? 
;',:-?.;.fS"'fitting ilat Logitech one Of the W6rld's l&rgest': 
look .in his eyes, And he really ..,,.. x" '. .... : By rights Engelbart shOuld:be ' :', 
d/d. deliver several generations .i '; ,./ ;',". ' .  ' ' a bitter, hateful old man'?Imagine ".,.: 
'-of re4earchers." . ,' ' ' ,"":' "::' ' ' : for a 'cond if you h'ad correctly predicted':tW0'.or 
-.. If-:thm valley were a meritocracy, Engelbart'would' three full cycles of technology, only to see the izldus-" .  
' ' ...... 1 ' ." . ...... . '.," .".. .. 
.. be.ho ding court in a palatial university office or high.: tries you dreamed u.p turn. thmr back on you,,You 
atPP,.ome mountain, with students andseekErs,at hiS" would;be hopping mad. YOU' would be readit',itar 
eet&:.B. ut. t ddn t work out that way,,..Today, the.. the chip.s, right off the. motherboards with y9ur teeth. 
Th'dm 'as Edison of the personal computer industry -,. But that s not Engelbart, ::.::. . .. -:u:-&', 
't't'(:guy'wh6. was by and large responsible-.for the. If there's one thing",,every.'researcher wh6 'am''in .,.!,  
 favision:,.department from day one.--.':does his ................... "' ";" 
ngelba[t was; 
 one of the first?,%., 
if not the first, :, 
to thinl;,"Of 
computers as .. 
communication 
 de,ices-*rather,$.- 
than just giant 
adding 
machines. 
ANNA MARIE REMEDIQS 
-- MERCURY NEWS 
------------------------------<page break>-----------------------------
still.,ve,. ..... :.muchalive 
.rY ,f ......  ..... ...... ..... .. 
Contact,.wjth.:him in the glory 
it's this: Doug- 
of the kind- 
they've ever 
Bill Gates. He 
 finished last. 
on a 'recent 
he looks 
pilot- 
Highway 1 
:.'the next cy- 
nications. With 
his. sensible 
elbart; ' who 
his wife of 
pres- 
people 
,rn when he .... 
about 'how it 
r .first stretch 
,25. years 
off the' 
iing..'why .the an- 
!,mpor- 
vances 
that time. 
(the pre- 
went 
15 years on 
'augment hu- 
?StAnd in 1968, 
ntatton at a 
,nc in San Fran- 
demonstrated 
nferencing. So 
we 
would just 
more peo- 
gs_we_were_. 
:was one of the' first,' 
if n0t.[thelfirst,:to think of corn-. 
pu .teri' ..,Lqo,.m, picafions devices 
r ath,era,i. "juffiant adding 
chine s'earl as 1950 'at a Ume 
ther[,..,ereno'.more.than a dozen 
electronI. g}:,puters .In the 
wriah";:inkin about ma- 
nipUiafg, mb%ls 0ncreens. He 
recei'.dSate in electri- 
cal e''ffffi':iff'1955 from the 
ley..'A'.% '. stint  an 
at Berkeley, 
he bved..to.SRI,..which w, at 
that :hme';soiad with Stan- 
ford UaiYity'jz',?;: .... 
 ,., - .....,. :: .... 
He'd Spend the next 2) 
SRI, '18 Of them running his:own 
lab, with as many as 47 scientists 
..work{riff[ihder him:'The sh6iZtl list 
of Engelbart, breakthrougl ' in- 
cludes,-os-screen windouSe. the. 
mou'(d:a fivefinger key 't . 
to go?:tE:':it), leconfehg:,:: 
real-time.collaboration-'and 
ext (a non-line way ,:0f or, 
gizing t oun' of :mfor-. 
mation).  :::.' '. :.i ._....,,?. "'L ' 
- The:technologies were..an 
pa :of:::i ' bier..'vision. h'., had, 
 whic':i'{olved gups .0ffork-'-' 
e using the werful 
speed up the cycles of 
" ' a 
-- a concept he cled boor  
:ping, Ame say 
higN:h" m.:.'a' lfiely. .de'eh'd 
visi6n:t'hat...w .. big :..ver' 
work,.:- ............ :: ...... ' ..v:- ........ 
.5; Rheing01d puts it 
 'Th..ouse,  Doug will"continr'-: 
ue %ell[you;[ is a'sml p.of a 
lar piur,__.iCh - ts.tn: 'turn 
pa o:'. 'even larger system, 
Pe0i;K". fixated  e'elves 
.'on pie''e' of hardware 0'[pleces' 
of software. From th very begin- 
.mng,he:? symg, .Yo'.gotta 
. Ioo at%his  a.whole. . '-, .: 
, , .'.:-:  ...' ."- '. t]; 
"By 1974, Engelba had gone' 
.far '' h could' to get thetother 
:researchers in the, lab, behind 
."auntf0n,'j.hi..to[tsystem 
"fof.c611%orative poblem-'01ving. 
.."It: ' the .wa:, we. livd'? back 
thaV the day-to-day work setup at 
SRI-h ls ?such'  his hy- 
e system --.that were more 
th 20 yea ahead of the cue, 
Then;;he sted .to encounter.re- 
Sise'..ong' his sta," Four- 
,teen['0f;:is researchers would 
.,evenfully migrate to t''Xeox 
?s legenda 
sech-'nr (PARC.., inter- 
. estqn, his':[ work. lagged.  SRI, 
EngMb' hi,elf moved  - 
sh,.'.'.'cbmpy that bought 
the(Rgh : his "augmention" 
chnolog '1977 .... """ '" 
San Jose Mercuw News  .ing  Sunday, September 4, 1994 
... ,. . . ..."' ,.;,,:, 
!;'. Jon Postel had been a grad tu- 
dent working at UCLA a thq...{jcme 
of the:first network transmission, 
.He later went to work fO..Er{gel- 
barc,'just  the exod,,' 
w under .way, oda:.h.i'.' 
Engelbart's. estrangement,t:l[om 
the. industry he pioneerda 
agic .tow." Postel 
gelb s doed dete 
stick wih his big 
in the. long n. 
for him::I would go 
Work 'with things on 
.'d tk. It 1 
ee  me while 
:.,g, d then I'd leave:.h/6f. 
:d say.to mylf, Nw 
/??. Although some of:his. 
.forwd-lookm des..(su 
hext) were simply.;shel, 
the diiples at PARC 
'other pa into their new-wSkk: 
The evolutionaw link fro m Eel- 
b's lab to PARC's Aim n- 
al computer m the Apple MaCin- 
tSh is'a direct one  right dbn 
to the mouse, a device: Engel' 
had Pgtened "he X-Y 
.indicd'to for displa.,yste'" 
ay ack in 1963. : 
',  ' , . .-:. ' . 
". EngelSart laughs' ana",1oos 
_'Way when it's pointed o..ha.if 
he had a nickel for eve mouse 
"ever sold, he could fund .his own 
.research.."After I'd bn gon.:a 
.>:3ong time, they (Ski) had'me OVer: 
.. to dinner,' d the m".who' 
"resident then gave me a.'hek/' 
he says. That's standard practice 
fsr think-tank habitust::When 
'you me your living' {nnting 
things, ou're expected.to Sign 
 /over the: paten to the fol ho 
:e p:cking up t ab....,.,, :...,.: ::.q!:. 
':::: Engelb says that in th ely' 
.'80s, he,ted to sell the,deve10 
'"e of onal compute 
'alue of' networking, but they 
' wanted :'nothing to do:.wih'i. 
.<They were quite adt,;:h. 
,. recls,..: :They not 
:..pprecia: the' 
::personal:;ompuers 
?each othe': ey told 
o'm'aes, with:a:"'g 
:.mcatio::{:mld em 
 tunity .for the world. A decade 
dow the ..drain," ...::,..-.'...' " 
------------------------------<page break>-----------------------------
SEPTEMBER 4, 1994  
.... . ....................... '.. ........................................ . .................................... , ......................... 
':< .... ' ' urlti'e 'i. ," :iFEATURES  ADVICE  FAMYf  
in 19}]_jhen!iie'(:.'t - up 
nter8 '  ide-' 
ple mpute, SUn Micro- 
m. , aP0L the 
r of . me 
the. 
he 
sole 
says 
in 
He 
'h'6 ,sala- 
there is 
Engel- 
plus 
eminar 
i' 
i/ion". 
3 
"irned 
.and  
:'inierest 
hand out 
,)enture 
;. of 
com- 
 great 
no- 
/ 
r chmsin 
will 
;o to 
soon that 
he, says. 
are 
the 
'that 
soon people avoid talking 
It's hard enough to invest in a 
vision that's somewhat esoteric. 
It's doubly hard when the main 
proponent of that vision is a soft- 
spoken man with no feel at all for 
the swashbuckling, self-promot- 
ing ways of entrepreneurship. 
"Doug,..was a_ 
early on, and I don't think he's 
really gotten his due,'.'. says UCLA 
computer-science chairman Leon- 
ard Kleinrock/thi .man on the 
other end of that 'first .Internet 
packet. "He was-.arely modest 
guy. I don't think the world will 
remember him aSmore' than the 
!nventor. of the: moUSe.: Doug was 
never a .very good ipromoter. He 
had the vision, but he couldn't 
articulate .it very well. That was 
the case early on --:.his stuff was 
hard to understand.]... . . . 
"When you.:listen to it, it 
sounds great, but<when you go 
away, it's hard to remember.what 
it was," says Postel, "The con- 
cepts are so difficult .to get your 
head around. Too,.many people 
had that experience. People build 
things out of pieces.': And it didn't 
seem there were;;pieces people 
could go. build ,and ,.make useful 
independently',N.ovi: so. many 
years later, you..:d. :see things 
such as. Mosaic.. (a-highly touted 
hypertext tool,:for Internet 
browsing) that implement small 
parts of his visibn.'}'!".. 
Today, .the idea of time -- and 
the cost of lost time  are very 
much on Engelbart's. mind. Al- 
though he stops just short of voic- 
ing anger, he's visibly frustrated 
that' the world has..been so slow 
to come .around to,his ideas. "It's 
sort of like mankind's in a vehi- 
cle, moving faster and faster, and 
yet our. headlights-don't shine 
any further ahead and our ability 
to steer it isn't getting any better. 
So how long before we crash?" 
It took 25 years for computer.- 
networking .to become a mass- 
market item. How.long before En-, 
gelbart's eight grandchildren cre- 
ate their school reports with hy- 
pertext? Engelbart says waiting. 
for the cycle oLinnovation to 
slowly turr yet again has taken a 
toll on him..:' '.' . ,,,. .; 
"It's been,very expensive to me::. 
personally, in stress and frustraf? 
tion. It's dented my personality in '<' 
certain ways. I know. it certainly 
makes it harder for me to write. I 
write it, send it out to the world," 
and 'no response..One of the big-. 
gest feelings',of soow or loss is'" 
there would.have.been so much.. 
more. I could have contributed if 
,.: "He paUSes and lets the sting' 
of the thought .wear' off. "You. 
know," he. says softly, '7 haven't .. 
had the resourceato do the ex -< 
ploratory. work ,since the mid,'" 
'70s." "..': .... '. 
Engelbart today, says Rhein- 
hold, "is satisfied with nothing 
less than people Understanding 
the totality',. of what he's doing.  
It's going to".'tkke aother 10 or 20 
years. Nobody knows if he's got 
another. 10 'or 20.years. You gotta 
give him ere.dit for incredible per- 
sistence, .though; ..he's still at it, 
still pitching:'.'. .... 
As afternoon turns to evening, 
and the. 'shadows grow long 
through the. k. window that looks 
out on Kaiser Drive, Engelbart is 
indeed still.,,pitching. A visitor 
asks if he's.:.looking forward to 
breaking bread with the other In- 
ternet trailb.l_azers.back in Boston. 
"It's as if. the pioneers are hav- 
ing a big'celebration for getting 
all the way to Kentucky," Engel- 
bart says, :/'That's: great, but 
there's more., frontier out there. 
We think. ,we've<arrived. And 
that's what,I've heard for these 
past 30 years: 'Hey ,-- we're here, 
We're really, .doing,it.. Just like 
you said. So,Doug; you can stop 
waving your: handaz:.now.'. What 
can I say? There's that target and 
it's still way up there." 
------------------------------<page break>-----------------------------